Recent Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) have begun to include chapters or provisions on cooperation and addressing the development of SMEs, and their results have enabled SMEs to strengthen capacity in their productive processes. However, further efforts could be made to foster the participation of SMEs in global production chains through addressing the issue in next generation trade agreements. This will facilitate the development of SMEs as supporting industries 1.
Therefore, we agreed that APEC could promote the inclusion of language in FTAs, setting out areas in which parties will cooperate to enhance SMEs’ participation in global production chains in order to foster trade and investment in the region. These areas of cooperation could include:
• Enhancing SMEs’ ability to take advantage of opportunities throughout the production chain
a) Enhancing SMEs’ ability to identify commercial partners and direct investment and joint venture opportunities in foreign markets.
b) Sharing information on assistance programs the parties have in place to foster SMEs participation as supporting industries.
c) Enhancing SMEs’ understanding of how to become reliable supporting industries and to establish business ties with other supporting industries, final goods suppliers, and exporting industries.
• Enhancing SMEs’ ability to take advantage of trade opportunities
d) Enhancing SMEs’ human resources development through training programs on international trade, and entrepreneurial and technical education.
e) Making publicly available trade-related regulations and other policies relevant to SMEs and their participation in global production chains.
• Promote enhanced use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and intellectual property protection
f) Enhancing SMEs’ understanding of how to utilize ICT networks and other innovative technologies to participate in global production chains.
g) Enhancing SMEs’ understanding of how to acquire and protect their intellectual property rights.
• Facilitate SMEs’ access to trade and investment-related information
h) Enhancing Parties understanding of how to develop and promote seminars, workshops, trade opportunities and other activities, including establishing and maintaining a publicly available online tool kit to convey information, including text, tariff schedules, and references that can be useful for trading, investing, or doing business, to make it easier for SMEs to take advantage of the benefits of Free Trade Agreements.
1 Supporting industries may be defined as suppliers of inputs and/or services to be incorporated into the
production chain of other enterprises which participate in international trade.